Targeting a relevant audience is essential for PPC ads. Whether in the Search or Display Network, considerable time and attention is taken to ensure you are reaching an appropriate audience. A while back, Google introduced a new method to help determine uninterested viewers. In July 2012, Google ushered in a new tool to mute certain ads on the Display Network, using a small [x] in the upper right hand corner. This option allowed users to specify ads they no longer wished to see. No information was obtained, though, on why they wanted to hide these ads.

To remedy this, Google recently announced plans to take this concept to the next level. Throughout the coming weeks, Google will be transitioning the mute ad setup to include a three-question survey. The insights gained from these surveys will allow Google to better understand why users are opting out of certain ads.

What Ads this Affects

The news release from the AdWords blog mentions some of the Display ads will have this feature. Looking at information for the original tool, it appears that this feature is for Display Network ads that utilize either remarketing, or interest categories.

Why this Update Matters

Allowing people to specify why they no longer want to see the ads will give Google some potentially powerful insight. Google allows users to choose one of three categories for muting the ad:

  • I don’t like the content.
  • I’ve seen the ad too often.
  • Ad is covering content.

Here’s a preview of the survey interface:

Screen shot 2014-01-26 at 2.27.16 PM

There is a distinct difference between these options, so Google no longer has to assume you aren’t interested in the content of the ad. Perhaps there is a formatting issue on the site, or with the ad, and it is blocking part of the page.  If it is from a remarketing list, it’s possible the user has just seen that ad too often, but would still be interested in ads for similar products/services. Previously muting this ad would have caused Google to assume the person wasn’t interested in that category, or product.

Not liking the content is a bit broad, so Google takes that selection to the next level. A second part of the survey comes up if they select that generic reason for muting the ads. The user can then choose from three options.

  • The ad is too distracting.
  • They aren’t interested in the offer.
  • It is a possible violation of Google ads.

When reported correctly, the last option could help Google find possible ad violations and clean up the Display Network ads.

What Does this Mean for You?

So what does this mean for advertisers? It remains unclear to what extent the data will be utilized. What is clear, though, is that the feature can potentially help advertisers get impressions from a more relevant audience. If uninterested users mute your ads, it will keep you from wasting time/money in showing the ads to them in the future. The purpose of remarketing and interest categories is to get more of a qualified audience. Understanding why someone would prefer not to be shown certain ads will help Google get more appropriate ads in front of them.

I could see this new feature being beneficial to both Google and the advertisers. The more insight Google has, the better ad experience they can provide for the users, which can only help the advertisers in turn. The key to the tool’s success, though, relies on people taking the time to give honest (and true) feedback. Excessive reporting of Google violations when they don’t exist, or people not participating in the survey, will hinder the success of this new feature.

As Google continues working on this tool, it will be interesting to see what powerful insights can be gained from the feedback.